COLUMN: Maybe there is hope for politics in social media

Langrick Village Show and Flower Festival. Margaret and Warwick Gorse reseiving the Bast Kept Front Garden cup from MP Matt Warman. EMN-150709-103707001
Langrick Village Show and Flower Festival. Margaret and Warwick Gorse reseiving the Bast Kept Front Garden cup from MP Matt Warman. EMN-150709-103707001

Around two thirds of Boston and Skegness’s constituents are on Facebook – higher than the national average – and so I’m keen to make sure that people are able to get in touch with me on social media.

That means if you post on my Facebook wall or send me a Twitter message, I’ll do my best to either reply directly, or encourage people to email me so we can go in to more detail about a specific case.

Regrettably, social media seems to follow different rules from real life: it’s apparently OK to use language even the unhappiest constituents have never used to my face.

When challenged on calling me a ‘moron’, to take a polite-ish example, one member of the public initially tried defending his approach before thinking better of it and deleting his comment altogether.

Almost like the opposite of real life, many people start shouting, digitally, and calm down when reasons for policies are explained. Almost all, disappointingly for the state of politics, express surprise that they get a reply at all.

Facebook, ultimately, is a superb tool to engage with thousands of constituents and to offer new channels for communication that simply didn’t exist just a few years ago.

And hopefully it’s a chance for sceptical voters to see politicians do care and do notice, even if sometimes we disagree.

Most importantly, I hope, it’s a chance to show that complex decisions are never taken with the aim of making things worse, and always after carefully assessing the best balance it is practical to strike. Maybe there is some hope for hashtag politics after all.

Matt Warman is MP for Boston and Skegness.